Australia Buys Into U.S. WGS System; Boeing May Build An Extra Satellite

Australia will buy into the U.S. Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) system instead of producing an Aussie-built satellite, meaning that The Boeing Co. [BA] likely will get to produce six instead of five birds for the WGS system, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

For Australia, joining the U.S. Air Force WGS will cost less than the $1 billion cost of a home-grown satellite, while at the same time giving Australian military forces worldwide communications capabilities and better interoperability with U.S. forces.

As well, Australian forces will gain much-needed bandwidth, something in short supply as Aussie fighters go ever more into high-tech gear and expanded communications.

The new satellite will orbit over Australia with a reach to the Middle East.

This move to have Australia help to underwrite WGS costs is of a piece with recent U.S. congressional proclivities to push more defense bills onto allied nations. For example, some eight friendly nations are helping to foot the bill for developing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), called the Lightning II in the states, and likely will buy some of the planes once production begins. Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] of Bethesda, Md., is the prime contractor, aided by Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] of Los Angeles, and a U.S. unit of BAE Systems of London.

Raytheon In $1.2 Billion Pact For Work On Aussie Air Warfare Destroyers

Raytheon Co. [RTN] will perform work on the future Australian Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD), a class of ship using air defense missiles and other systems to provide a shield against enemy missiles and aircraft.

The Phase III contract is valued at US$1.2 billion [A$1.4 billion], and involves Australia, Raytheon and ASC Shipbuilding.

Raytheon will be mission systems integrator, and will “Australianize” the combat system around the Aegis core. The Aegis weapon control and guidance system is now made by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT].

Raytheon and others in the AWD Alliance will deliver the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) next generation Hobart Class AWDs.

The warships will provide air defense for accompanying ships, land forces and infrastructure in proximate coastal areas and for self-protection against attacking missiles and aircraft.

Raytheon Australia was selected for the AWD Alliance in April 2005 and will continue to partner with Australian industry over the life of the project.

Greece To Buy More Hellfire Missiles

The United States and Greece agreed that the Mediterranean nation will buy more Hellfire II missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT], the company announced.

Just how many missiles are involved, and the price Greece will pay, weren’t disclosed.

The agreement authorizes sale of multiple warhead variants of the modular HELLFIRE II, with options, for the Hellenic Army AH-64

Apache and the Hellenic Navy SH-60B Seahawk helicopters.

The three modular HELLFIRE II semi-active laser warhead variations include the High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) missile, which defeats all known and projected armored threats; the blast fragmentation missile, which defeats “soft” targets such as boats, buildings, bunkers and light-armored vehicles; and the metal augmented charge missile, which defeats enclosures, caves and enemy personnel housed therein.

Greece is buying the missiles through a foreign military sale contract.

This purchase employs economy of scale, taking advantage of a large buy of HELLFIRE missiles from Lockheed Martin by the U.S. Army to reduce cost for both users.

With more than 20,000 rounds delivered, Hellfire II is approved for international sales, via government-to-government or direct commercial sales.

It currently is fielded with all four U.S. armed services and those of 13 other nations. Nearly 6,800 rounds have been fired by coalition forces in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom against a diverse target set.

Hellfire II is launched from a wide array of platforms, including the U.S. Army Apache and Kiowa Warrior helicopters; the U.S. Marine Corps Cobra; the U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter; the United Kingdom Apache attack helicopter; the Eurocopter Tiger and the U.S. Air Force Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Norway and Sweden also employ the missiles launched from tripods in a coastal defense mode.

Raytheon Gains $100 Million In Patriot, Hawk Contracts From Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia gave two contracts to Raytheon Co. [RTN] totaling more than $100 million for air defense missile systems and other work.

One pact involves a multi-year deal for Raytheon to continue providing technical, training and logistics support from this year through 2009 for Saudi Patriot and Hawk air defense systems.

The other is a contract extension to provide local support services this year.

Patriot is a combat-proven air and missile defense system capable of simultaneously engaging and destroying threat aircraft, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and tactical ballistic missiles.

Complementing the Patriot system, the Hawk system provides robust low-to-medium altitude air defense against a wide range of air-breathing threats including cruise missiles.

Lockheed Snares $190 Million, $124 Million NASA Contracts

NASA gave Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] a $190 million contract to provide the rocket service lifting the spacecraft Juno for a mission to Jupiter, and a $124 million pact for a Landsat launch, the space agency announced.

In the first contract, Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services of Littleton, Colo., will provide an Atlas V model 551 rocket to lift Juno, and also will contribute payload processing, launch vehicle integration, and tracking, data and telemetry support.

The spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in August 2011 on an interplanetary trajectory to Jupiter.

Juno will arrive at Jupiter in August 2016 to uncover the secrets hidden beneath its thick, colorful clouds.

The spacecraft will use its remote sensing and gravity science measurements to characterize Jupiter’s interior, atmosphere and polar magnetosphere with the primary science goal of understanding the origin and evolution of Jupiter.

A principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio leads the Juno mission.

In the second contract, NASA gave Lockheed a $124 million deal to launch the Landsat Data Continuity Mission.

This pact is a competed firm-fixed-price task order.

Lockheed will use an Atlas V model 401 rocket for the launch. The company also will provide payload processing, launch vehicle integration, and tracking, data and telemetry support.

Landsat is slated to swing into a 428-mile-high polar sun synchronous orbit in July 2011, lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The Landsat Data Continuity Mission will extend the more than 30-year record of high-quality land surface measurements from previous Landsat satellites. NASA uses the data to study, understand and predict the consequences of land surface changes.

Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages procurement and acquisitions for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S. Geological Survey will manage the satellite after launch and in-orbit checkout.

Textron To Carry Taurus Missile System For Government Sales

A unit of Textron Inc. [TXT] will begin offering U.S. government customers the Taurus missile System made by Taurus Systems GmbH, Textron announced.

The Taurus product will be offered through Textron Defense Systems, a unit of Textron Systems Corp., a unit of the overall parent company.